"Hear from Leah Joanino"
Back in summer of 2013, I was involved in an amazing internship program in West Hollywood, CA. It was during my time there when I felt like God began to give me vision for Crowns of Beauty. This was also around the time I was starting my work with Justice Speaks - an LA based non-profit organization that fights against human trafficking.
Little did I know that the next four years of my life would include God sending me overseas frequently to be in the field working against sex trafficking and that I would also move to Dallas, TX and be a part of a dance company that travels the nation bringing powerful, spirit-filled dance. Crowns of Beauty was not at all in my radar and if it had been, I did not have the capacity to invest time and energy in it.
However four years later, the vision for Crowns of Beauty hasn't faded away. Rather, it seems as though my life during the past four years has only led to the vision being made more clear. Everything that I've experienced up to this point and all that God has put in my path has only led me to become more empowered to bring this vision to life. However, I do believe that this call to empower women, redefine beauty and shift culture has been God's plan for me all along.
When I look back at my story, it only makes sense that God would give me this assignment. I know what it feels like to be a completely lost young woman looking to all the wrongs places to fill that void in my heart. I was so desperate for love and acceptance. I just didn’t know where to look for it. So I did what I thought was the way to go. At 18 years old, I found myself in LA, wide eyed and ready to experience “freedom” after having moved 6 hours away from my strict asian parents. I partied and spent endless drunken nights clubbing in Hollywood trying to gain affirmation. If guys said I was pretty and showed me attention that night, then I must be worth something, right? I had no idea how broken I was. I just knew I was desperate for truth and love.
Long story short, I got saved at 21 years old. God’s love convince me to live differently. I can confidently tell you today that I am beautiful, strong, gifted, anointed, wise and full of joy. I don’t say those things to boast about myself but I confidently declare those words because it’s what God says about me. I may not always feel it but I can always look to God for this truth. What he says about me trumps every lie that I’ve ever heard spoken to me and every lie that I’ve thought about myself.
I love being a woman. I love being a daughter. I love being a sister. And one day, I will love being a wife and a mother. I love women and all that we are created to be! I am surrounded by so many amazing women in my life who inspire me and challenge me to be the woman God has called me to be. I will always stand up for women. I will always speak truth about who we are. Every truth spoken about us matters. We can’t speak the truth enough. There are too many lies out there about how a woman should talk, act, and live. There are too many false expectations and false narratives of what it means to be beautiful.
It brings me so much joy seeing a woman who is confident in who she is; a woman who finds her worth in God and empowers those around her. Our hope through Crowns of Beauty is that our content would cause women to feel empowered and confident in all that God says about her. Our hope is that when you encounter life stories here from other women like yourself that you no longer feel alone in your journey. That’s why I’ve created the series, “Connect with Her” so that in some ways, we can be assured that we're not crazy or alone in the ups, downs and in-betweens of life. We can connect and learn from each other's vulnerability encouraging each other to seek truth and to keep going! My hope is that together, we can let go of the false pressures and expectations of the world over us and know that we are enough - more than enough!
My hope is that we would recognize who we are as world-changers and that we turn our attention to those who need our help and need us to be their voice. This is my vision for “Set Her Free” where we will provide content that will shine light on the issue of sex trafficking. This isn't just an issue for those "called to fight against sex trafficking". I strongly believe that this is an issue that affect all women and thus, an issue we need to all take a stand on. My hope is that we stand up for justice and that we activate ourselves to bring change where there’s needed. As we are liberated, we liberate those around us.
My hope is that women would feel celebrated through Crowns of Beauty which is why I have the “Celebrate Her” series because we get to celebrate each other! We get to champion one another. This is where I get to highlight women that I have the honor of crossing paths with and allow them to tell us about their journey. We don’t have to compare and contrast our stories with hers. We don’t have to feel like her success robs us of ours but we get to celebrate her story, rejoice in her dreams and be empowered by her journey!
Thank you for visiting Crowns of Beauty and taking the time to visit. This is just the beginning. Thank you for journeying with us. Together, we can redefine and restore beauty according to God's original intent and design. While doing so, we are transforming culture! I hope it blesses you!